Priorities and Peace of Mind

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Regular readers have noticed I’ve slacked off on my blogging the last few weeks. It is with no small irony that I’m blogging about what this taught me.

The short form is between the novel, the Seventh Sanctum rewrite, work, and the current chaos in the world, I am busy and tired. The blog sometimes takes a back seat to other things. My regular two posts a week become one. Sometimes there’s just an update.

The reason for this is actually great fuel for a blog post (and it keeps up my momentum).

One thing I’ve emphasized over and over in my Agile practices is the importance of priorities. I’ve learned to force-rank my projects – nothing can be of the same significance – so I know where to direct limited time and energy.

In the last two months, which so much going on, the blog was – unfortunately – lower on that list. It won’t be that way forever, but it’s been lower on the list for a while. I accept this because I prioritized.

This is a great advantage of prioritization – peace of mind.

When you know what is essential to do, you can get to it. You focus on what delivers the most value and tackle it. The fear of not doing these essential things fades as you’re working on what matters first.

When you know what is less important, you have less stress about not getting it done. You’ve already accepted things may not get done and thus worry less when you don’t do them.

Finally, by having your efforts prioritized, you can worry less about what to do. Prioritization takes all the worrying you might do over “what’s next” and gets it out of the way before it causes anxiety. Think of it as “worry before it becomes worry.”

So I’m not happy I’ve blogged less, and I’d like to do more. But it’s not a source of stress with me as I made my decisions. Besides, as I always re-prioritize, I know things will change.

If you’re having a lot of stress over projects, consider more time on prioritizing. It might make things easier.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 7/18/2021

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

So where are my projects?

Giveaways – Grab a sample of “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet” here – https://claims.prolificworks.com/gg/oLvocnGvEp3aOkFRbO7P

A School of Many Futures second prereader edit is done! Now I’m on to some style checks, then a re-review of editor comments. After that is a final readthrough/grammar check and publishing end of August!

Agile Writing Book: Well I decided to do this, but haven’t made plans yet. I do think it’ll be bingewritten to “keep the fire burning” and will be my next “new content” book. Probably out 2022.

The Way With Worlds series won’t see new books until November. I’m still planning the new covers, probably coming Sept-October.

Other books are actually in drafts – compendiums of various columns. I’m probably going to do something with that over the holidays or for fun. I won’t let it get in the way of other things, but literally I have two books ready to go from keeping past columns and tweaking them.

The Seventh Sanctum rewrite had some major code breakthroughs! I sorted out a lot of oddball generators and tweaked my framework to be more adaptable! There’s only a few more left to do, so wish me luck!

Steven Savage

The 4 Day Work Week?

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’m going to put my geek job guru hat on for this column and discuss the idea of the four-day workweek. I’m sure we’ve all heard about Iceland’s experiments in such an arrangement. I want to go into how it’s possible to do so with little interruption – but there’s something else to address first.

Namely, a lot of current working arrangements are awful. People are underpaid, abused, work in bad conditions, etc. We must fix these things, and we must have a robust social safety net. Also, a four-day workweek would be good for mental health, period.

With that out of the way, let me explain why I think a four-day workweek is possible for many jobs. I believe that people can be just as productive, with some exceptions. I also don’t care about the exceptions because I think a four-day workweek is a good idea.

But, anyway, a four-day workweek is possible because many businesses and organizations burn a lot of time on useless stuff. Imagine if organizations worked to do things better and that saved time meant less time on the job?

FIXING MISTAKES IS A PART OF TOO MANY JOBS: And I’m not talking QA or editing, but fixing mistakes that should be rare. People burn cycles going over poorly filled-out forms, bridging gaps that shouldn’t exist, and so on. Ever know someone whose job boils down to “talk to people who don’t talk to anyone else?”

TOO MANY BUSINESS PROCESSES ARE TERRIBLE: The reason so much goes wrong is many business processes are awful. Endless forms with no guiding documents and poorly implemented reports suck up time. Many people waste time doing things that don’t work very well as no one wants to fix them.

MEETINGS: Somehow, in the last two decades, meetings got even further out of control. I suspect technology has made it even easier to schedule time-wasters – meetings with no point or where only a few people are needed. What if we, you know, had less?

USELESS TOOLS:  I remember being excited about business tools – programs, spreadsheets, etc. However, they may not solve problems and can even create more if they’re not the right ones. How many times did you give up on something and use Excel (the duct tape of tools).

NO IMPROVEMENT: Agile has taught me how to focus on improvement. However, a lot of businesses don’t seem to want to improve by, you know, improving. THere’s not much bottom-up feedback (like Agile) but plenty of consultants ready to take your money. In the end, it seems not enough changes anyway.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY: I have heard this since . . . forever. It’s hard to know what’s going on in any large organization. This may not be nefarious – sometimes miscommunication happens. But when you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t plan.

BURNOUT:  All of the above leads to more people burning out. Burnout leads to failure, resignation, inefficiency, etc. If you had fewer of these problems, you’d have less burnout. Burnout makes bad things worse.

I firmly believe if organizations committed to a four-day workweek, many could make it happen by making things run better.

For fun, spend a week or two and ask yourself what tasks could be more efficient – or removed altogether. The answer . . . well, it won’t surprise you.

Steven Savage